October 2020


Hello Friends!

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that fall has always been my favorite time of year. It has consistently been a time of welcomed and rewarding changes:

  • Breathtaking colors that Mother Nature provides
  • Harvesting summer’s bounty
  • Enjoying the cooler, crisp weather with less mosquitos
  • And up until this year, transitioning to a more predictable, comfortable routine after a whirlwind summer

We have been told all our lives to embrace change, and that change is the only thing that is constant. While I think those are important sentiments to keep in mind, never have we gone through the magnitude of changes that we’ve experienced in 2020. 

This constant state of change that we are living through is causing our kids to be more anxious and unsure. And rightfully so. Many of the youth in our program were facing unique challenges prior to all of these new changes. As they learn to navigate their altered school and home lives, they need an encouraging mentor in their lives now more than ever.  

Often times, change is beyond our control. When you become a mentor, you are the driving force to inspire making the most of change. If you can provide a listening ear, a thoughtful question, a smile of encouragement, and other small acts of kindness, you can be the difference for a child for that day. That day will turn into a week, then into a month, and eventually change the trajectory of their lives. For the better. Forever. (Pssst! ... the kids will change your life, too.)

Our Annual Report will soon be released, thank you to all of our donors and volunteers to make our mission possible. 


Jackie Johnson
Executive Director
MEET KYLIE BREITKREUTZ & AMARE!

Kyle and Amare have been matched for 3 and a half years in the school-based program. The two of them enjoy baking and cooking, going for walks around the school, and playing board games. They have also attended our Big Brothers Big Sisters Summerland activity. When the two of them were no longer able to meet in person, they maintained communication by using FaceTime. Kyle has been a great support system to Amare and has helped him to work through many different obstacles in his life. 

When asked what has been the best, or your proudest moment as a Big, Kyle said, "Watching him thinking of others." Amare’s mother is also very happy with the match as well. She states, “Kyle is great and a perfect match for Amare!” Kyle and Amare continue to develop their friendship, and we can’t wait to see where it takes them!

Mardi, Jon, and Alexa Noyes and Jacari are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Mardi, Jon, and Alexa Noyes and Jacari! Mardi, Jon, and Alexa Noyes were recently matched with their Little Brother Jacari! Together they are looking forward to fishing, bowling and hiking! As you are considering being a Big, check out our current list of new Matches.

We would also like to congratulate these Matches who are celebrating milestone anniversaries! We ask all Bigs to commit to at least one year of mentorship - that one year of consistency makes a BIG difference in the life of a child.
Big Brothers Big Sisters defends the potential of youth. Recently, we received this adorable pic of Terrence, Tia and baby Ezra. Terrence was a Little in our program. He attended Saint John's University on the BBBS Annexstad Scholarship (the precursor to our Federated Challenge scholarship).

Terrance wrote, "I graduated from Saint John’s in 2016 with a degree in Nutrition then received my Masters in Clinical Exercise Physiology from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2019. Currently I’m working at M Health Fairview where I primarily actually work as an Exercise Physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation and cardiac stress testing. As far as my family, I married my wife, Tia, in September 2017 and we just had a son named Ezra (who is now almost 4 months old) in June of 2020. I still keep in close contact with my Big Couple, Kelly and Shelly Davidson, and it’s been really helpful to ask them for advice and they’ve been great leaders by example as far as how to have a strong family."

Potential Defended. 
BIGS STARTING SOMETHING BIG!

One of our Big Brothers, Zach Faith, is in the news! Zach has been a Big since 2015 when he became a High School Big in Foley. He is currently at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.

In September he started a new philanthropic organization whose members all have the name "Zach" or "Zachary." What started off as joking around about making an all-Zach basketball team has now turned into something much bigger.

Go Big For Kids' Sake is Presented by:
URGENT: BIGS NEEDED NOW!

As the nation navigates its way through crisis, we are all feeling the toll of the unknown. The kids served through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program are no different. Now, more than ever, they need the friendship & support of a caring mentor. Our mission is CRITICAL- join us!

We especially need Bigs for our school and site based program. Visitors are currently not allowed in the schools- but you can meet with your Little before, after or during school through your device online. Your consistent friendship will mean the world to a Little who is living with so much unknown!

The first step is to let us know you're interested and we will take it from there, visit www.BigDefenders.org to learn more!
MTH RAISES $6,400 AND COUNTING!

Recently, Rick Wildtraut, General Manager of Minnesota Truck Headquarters presented Jackie Johnson with a check for $3,200! We just found out that we will be getting a second check for $3,200 as well. The Race to 300 fundraiser runs through the end of October!

For every vehicle they sell, they are asking their customer to choose one of four charities to give $200 to and we have been picked 32 times so far!

Please let your friends and family know about this great promotion - thanks MTH!
THANK YOU, BERNICK'S!

This month our Partner Spotlight goes to Bernick's! Bernick's is part of the foundation of our community (since 1916!) and has provided countless resources to the nonprofits throughout their service area. As events have had to adapt to an ever-changing environment due to the current pandemic, so too, have event sponsors had to adapt.

Once again, Jason Bernick and the Bernick's company have rallied with us. We are proud to announce them as a BBBS Recruitment Sponsor! Thank you for supporting our efforts to locate a mentor for each and every kid in our program.

If you would like to learn more about what being a Recruitment Sponsor could look like for your organization, contact Emily Steinmetz at 320-258-4515 or Emily@BigDefenders.org
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jenna Binsfeld, Peggy Brown, Debbie Clausen, Kevin Fitzpatrick (Treasurer), Patty Funk, Jeff Gannon, Lee Hurd, Courtney Kunkel, Holly Lee, Bill Martin-Chaffee, Vince Mohs, Curran Poganski,
Marie Primus (Past President), Luke Riordan, Rick Roehl, Alex Schoephoerster (Vice Pres.),
Christie Schulte, Peter Spaniol (Secretary), Vicky Welty (President)

ADVISORY COUNCIL
Barb Anderson, Scott Bement, Mimi Bitzan, Mark Coborn, Joe Francis, Brad Goskowicz, Keith Julson,
Shelly Bauerly Kopel, Gary Marsden, Karla Myres, Steve Sauer, Kurt Scepaniak, Joyce Schlough,
John Schnettler, Rob Schumann, Eric Stalboerger, Perian Stavrum, Mark Traut, Joan Vincent,
Bob Walter, Don Watkins, Sue Wendt, Mike Ziemann